COLD SPRING HARBOR, N.Y. – “,” part two in a series on “The Long Island Country House 1860-1940,” can be seen at the Gallery of the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities now through December 3.
While the first section of this exhibition explored the transportation advantages and recreational allure of Long Island that sparked the country house movement, part two profiles the owners and architects. Discussed are the estate planning process and the tremendous impact – both welcomed and unwelcomed – that the phenomenon had on the region.
A special section features some of the greatest losses from the era, such as Louis Comfort Tiffany’s remarkable treasure house, Laurelton Hall, which was consumed by fire in 1957. Clarence and Katherine Mackay’s Harbor Hill (1899-1947), McKim, Mead & White’s version of Francois Mansart’s Maisons-Laffite, also long gone, was to change the appearance of country houses on Long Island, and J.R. Delamar’s Pembroke (1918-1968), the palatial Glen Cove estate, demolished in 1968, had been completed the year of its creator’s demise.
Perhaps the most evocative demise revisited in the exhibit is Roland Conklin’s “Rosemary Farm,” designed by the brilliant Philadelphia architect, Wilson Eyre, and situated above a feature unique in the annals of the American country house – an outdoor amphitheatre for which the Olmstead brothers were responsible. It was at “Rosemary Farm” in the years leading up to World War I that great theatrical benefits took place for the Red Cross and Belgian Relief starring the Barrymores and other leading actors of the age.
Among the objects featured in the show is the only known architectural model to survive of a Long Island country house: Union Carbide chairman Jesse Ricks’ Plandome residence. Also in this section is a dollhouse bearing the office stamp of Delano & Aldrich and resembling the firm’s work in the 1920s; an iron bird house cast by the Miller Iron Company of Providence, R.I. in 1868 in the image of “Clifton,” a Roslyn Harbor country house; and a model of Arrow, the sleek “flyer” or steam yacht, which set the world record for speed on water at the outset of the last century and was among the yachts moored at the Harbourwood boathouse on Cold Spring Harbor. An original bond certificate from W.K. Vanderbilt, Jr.’s Long Island Motor Parkway is also included as well as a period architectural rendering of “Harbor Hill.”
The gallery is at Main Street and Shore Road and is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11:30 am to 4:30 pm through October 31 and Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm November 1 through December 31. Admission is free. For information, 631/692-4664.